Martín Bonjour was the odd man out.
That’s the word from the Vancouver Whitecaps after placing the bruising Argentine central defender on waivers Friday. Bonjour lost his starting spot to newcomer Andy O’Brien during the 2012 end-of-season run-in, meaning he was a spare part heading into 2013.
If Bonjour habored any hope that he might regain his spot alongside captain Jay DeMerit this preseason, that fell by the wayside in recent weeks with ‘Caps head coach Martin Rennie going after Brad Rusin, yet another central defender, from Danish side HB Køge.
Apart from his European experience, Rusin has a history with Rennie, as he captained the Carolina RailHawks under the Scottish tactician in the North American second tier.
The numbers game turned out to be too much. Bonjour is set to return to South America, having trained with his former Uruguayan club Liverpool de Montevideo this week, with reports from that country stating he has agreed a deal.
Despite the relationship coming to an end, Rennie said he’s appreciative of the 27-year-old’s efforts in bolstering a backline that looked hapless before his arrival.
“When we took over last season, we had one of the worst defensive records in MLS from the year before,” Rennie said Friday. “Martín really helped us solidify that, and for that I’m really thankful.”
In the early going, the addition of Bonjour in the center and Lee Young-Pyo at right fullback seemed to make all the difference, as the Whitecaps kept six out of eight clean sheets to start the 2012 season.
Discipline would become an issue for Bonjour as the season went along, however, as he amassed seven yellow cards from 28 appearances.
Indeed, it was a run-in with a referee that will likely be the lasting memory Whitecaps fans have of Bonjour. His foul on Landon Donovan in the Knockout Round of the 2012 playoffs led referee Silviu Petrescu to award the decisive penalty in the LA Galaxy’s 2-1 win, an especially cruel moment for Bonjour given he’d just stepped on the field in place of the injured DeMerit.
“At his age, he really wants to be starting and playing every week,” Rennie said. “I just feel that for him and for the club it’s the best thing and we genuinely wish him all the best.
“He’s a really nice guy who I think still has a big future in the game and will do really well.”
Martin MacMahon covers the Vancouver Whitecaps for MLSsoccer.com.